It’s the dawn of a paradigm shift in agriculture. The soil health movement, which has been simmering for decades, is gaining momentum. Improving the health of the soil increases crop, pasture and animal production leading to more dollars in the pocket. A better nutrient cycle in the soil means more nutrient dense food will be grown – good news for the consumer. Healthy soil also leads to a better water cycle, less run-off and the soil staying where it’s meant to be. It’s a rare situation where the producer, the consumer, and the environment wins.
But how do we get our soils humming? In a recent trip to Australia, molecular biologist Dr David Johnson outlined his research which shows that the use of biologically enhanced agricultural management (BEAM) methods in cropping systems has been successful in greatly increasing soil nutrient availability, leading to the production of up to 20 tonnes of biomass per hectare within 8 to 10 weeks.
The use of these methods in grazing systems and their subsequent effects on economics, however, is still poorly understood. This led RCS Director, Dr Terry McCosker to ask ‘how can we best replicate these results in grazing systems?’
To answer this, RCS is leading a coordinated effort to explore interactions between catalytic fertilisers, biology, soil health and the flow-on effects to production and profit. The project, which is based around 25 graziers implementing a number of strategies on a replicated paddock scale, aims to develop cost effective and sustainable processes for improving soil health and productivity in pasture based systems through a focus on soil biology, and a secondary focus on catalytic chemistry.
The trial objections include:
- Increase in production: the goal is a 200% increase in grazing yield.
- Increased profit. A cost benefit analysis will be done for each property – the goal is over 100% return on cost input
- A greater understanding of soil health and land vitality in grazing systems.
If you are interested in being a part of this $600,000 project, there are currently two places left. Please contact us on (07) 4939 5255 to discuss your suitability for the trial.
Other August newsletter articles
RCS visits Longreach
By Kelly McCosker
PAC Communication Model
By Margaret Bridgeford